Different groups “prepare” for the concert season in a variety of ways. During the summer and fall, obtain scores and listen to recordings to get ideas of music that you would like to do, as well as thinking of concert venues (will some pieces be used for “study” or will they definitely be performed?). As the marching band is in full swing, you should already be able to determine some basic instrumentation needs and information such as how the trumpets play, how loud the saxes are (and who do I need to talk to about switching to bari, bass clarinet, etc.). When the “day” or time comes for your group to make the transition, you should have already made sure the 11 concert horns are performance ready and you have any warm-up and technique books pulled along with some specific works.
Know what warm-up procedures you want to use. Of the pieces that you have pulled, you should have taken the time to at least do a brief score study (there are times to practice reading scores with your band, but a first concert rehear-sal is NOT it! A lack of preparation on your part will determine your students’ reaction to the entire year). You should know if you want to read through a piece first, work on a particular section, or read a couple of works. This should be planned as much as possible.
The same type of procedure should be used on all concert events as with the marching band situation mentioned previously. Know the target date of a concert. Plan which numbers you wish to prepare (other articles can be done on concert planning and programming!). Find the half-way point. Determine what you want to accomplish by this date-, know in your mind what you want the finished product to sound like. Organize weekly and daily lesson plans accordingly. It is best to “over plan” classroom activities. Be prepared to adjust these weekly and even daily. Sometimes, you may move faster than planned, and sometimes you may need to go back and review material.
When it comes to developing technique and musicianship, use the same type of planning. The important thing is that concepts are taught concurrently with the rehearsal of specific pieces. You can easily relate concepts of music history to students by using the pieces that you are rehearsing and performing. Sometimes relating theory concepts is a little more difficult, however, if you use some type of guidebook or workbook (such as Essentials of Music Theory, Master Theory Series, or Practical Theory ) you can approach theoretical material in a logical and quick manner. Using a method within the band class can also give students “something to do” when you are working with others, as most of these are self-directed and require only brief explanations by a teacher.
The key to planning and organizing with the end in mind will eliminate the frustration of being rushed to “be ready,” or having to cancel events because the “band just wasn’t ready.” Knowing what you want your group to sound like by a particular date and event is the way to schedule your planning and preparation accordingly. By having a plan of what you want to accomplish, you can derive lesson plans and activities that will stimulate student interest year after year. Organization is the key to success!